Marcus Coates’ Our Time placed the songs and calls of locally threatened bird species onto 6 clock towers along the North Kent coastline. The work could be heard as clocks chimed on the hour. Marking these moments with the beautiful and enigmatic songs and call of species such as the nightingale, curlew, lapwing, cuckoo, and turtle dove.
The idea was to relocate what is being lost to the regional and national environment at the heart of our civic centres, and to communicate the implications of ‘our’ human time, a period in history that has seen mass extinction, that has been orientated to human progress at the expense of other species, even on a very local level. These ornate clocks represent our social and political aspirations, they command respect and give our towns an identity and civic focus.
The use of birdsong that may not be heard in the wild for much longer to mark our time is a cynical and ironic act, but one that might help us become aware of their beauty and potential absence.
Our Time was installed in clock towers in Dartford, Gravesend, Rochester, Faversham, Herne Bay, and Margate as part of Estuary 2021.
A new film of the work, featuring a conversation between Marcus Coates and RSPB warden Will Tofts, will be available to schools and teachers through the Cement Fields Schools Collective soon.